College Recruiter founder Steven Rothberg weighs in on recruiting students, new grads, and entry-level workers
Recruiting the next generation of top talent? Then you should talk to Steven Rothberg. As founder of job search site College Recruiter, Steven’s watched both new grads’ job search behavior and recruiters’ new grad hiring tactics evolve over time. He also created one of the first niche job search sites that connects students and recent graduates of one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities with Fortune 1,000 companies, federal government agencies, and other employers.
We had the chance to catch up with Steven.
Summer’s approaching. It’s time to hire college students. When a recruiter interviews their next potential intern or entry-level candidate, what interview questions should they ask?
An internship that does not convert into a permanent job upon graduation is a failure for both the employer and candidate. Recruiters should ask the student how the internship fits into their career goals. The student should be able to articulate that they want an opportunity to prove their value to the employer, and it should be clear that they want to work for the employer for years.
How is it different when interviewing a recent grad?
They should ask questions about the candidate’s part-time work, seasonal jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences AND the classes, projects, majors, and other issues related to the educational achievements of the candidate. I see a lot of larger employers focused on the school and major of the candidate, even though there’s a lot of data emerging that indicates that the school and major of the candidate have little to do with the productivity of the candidate in the workforce. In fact, an increasing minority of employers is officially becoming school agnostic, meaning that they really don’t care where you went to college as long as you have the right education and, more importantly, work background.
You’ve been running College Recruiter since 1991. What has changed about the way employers look for recent grads?
Way back in the 1990s, the percentage of students who graduated with an internship was far smaller than it is today. Many students today really stress out about their inability to land at least one internship before graduation, and I don’t blame them because more and more employers are hiring a greater and greater percentage of candidates through their internship programs instead of hiring seniors who are about to graduate or those who recently graduated.
Employers today are looking less at the educational background of candidates than those employers did 25 years ago. It doesn’t matter as much today what school you attended, what your major was, or how high your GPA was. Those factors matter to many employers, but not as much as they used to because more and more employers understand that a better predictor of productivity is work experience, and so they prefer to hire students who have successfully completed at least one internship.
At the end of the day, priorities when hiring interns or entry-level grads can be very similar to just plain old hiring talent. What recruitment philosophy do you wish more businesses would employ?
I wish that more employers would embrace the lesson that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It amazes me how much time they’ll take deciding where to post their jobs and largely base that upon the strength of the job search site’s brand and traffic rather than metrics such as how many qualified candidates that site is likely to send to that employer’s ATS for the jobs they wish to advertise and then how many of those clicks are likely to convert into applications and interviews (read more on how to evaluate job search sites here).